Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze
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The Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 24, 2016
Genesis 18:20-32; Psalm 138; Colossians 2:12-14; Luke 11:1-13

            While Abraham’s three visitors left him to go to Sodom, Abraham paused to ask the Lord about the extent of his mercy to innocent people. Abraham learned the supreme value of asking questions to shape the response of others. In this passage, he asked whether God’s justice would include the killing of the innocent with the wicked because God was determined to wipe out the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because they failed to provide hospitality to travellers. Abraham wanted to learn about the Lord’s boundaries. He was relieved when the Lord said he would spare the people if he found fifty innocent men. Abraham persisted in his questioning until he reduced the number to ten. God, who loves the innocent, would spare the whole community if it meant saving only ten righteous men. Through asking, Abraham arrived at the answer he wanted.

            Jesus teaches his friends to pray, and his prayer includes the Lord’s Prayer and prayers of petition. Jesus wants them to be concrete and specific in their requests. Ask for what you need and want, and trust that God will deliver it to you. Ask, seek, and knock. These are words of action. He does not want us to be passive by holding our desires secretly in our hearts. First, we deprive others of the goodness they naturally want to extend to us. Second, it means that we do not trust God enough to hear our requests and to deliver them, and as God often works through the goodness and generosity of others, we have to open our consciousness to the ways that God wants to fulfill our requests.

            We seldom specifically ask for what we want. Did you ever have an experience in a restaurant when you were not served the meal exactly as you asked? Many people will simply accept the meal because it will take a while to prepare a new one; others will make a small complaint to the person sitting at their table and carry on; still will accept in silence and with disappointment, and yet, we can get what we want. After all, we are paying for the meal so it ought to be prepared as we would like it. The cook and the wait staff are very pleased if you give them specific instructions about your meal beforehand. They are there to please you and to meet your expectations. Their joy is in giving you what you want.

            The same dynamic exists with Christ in prayer, except there is a power difference because we are not paying for the meal. However, Christ is pleased to give you what you ask. In this Gospel passage, he is nearly begging you to ask for whatever you want in his name because he wants you to know that God is generous to a fault. He is like a merchant in his shop who is telling you to take whatever you want. He assures you that it is O.K. because he is giving it to you freely. He wants you to trust his sincerity and to put aside all your worry about taking advantage of him or trying to give him the proper value in exchange for the gift. His gifts are free. Take them.

            He reminds us to persist. Just as the neighbor who is awakened by his friend who wants to feed his visitor gives in to the request, first out of friendship, and then out of persistence, Jesus tells us to keep asking God and wearing God down with our petitions. This is what Abraham cleverly does; this is what we are to do. God and Jesus are giving us permission to step up our requests boldly in prayer. With such freedom, how can we dare say, “No thanks?” Learn how to relish in this type of boldness in prayer. The results will surprise you.

Scripture for Daily Mass

First Reading: 
Monday: (2 Corinthians) We hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us.
Tuesday: (Jeremiah 14) Let my eyes stream with tears day and night, without rest, over the great destruction which overwhelms the virgin daughter of my people, over her incurable wound.
Wednesday: (Jeremiah 15) Woe to me, mother, that you gave me birth! Why is my pain continuous, my wound incurable, refusing to be healed?   
Thursday: (Jeremiah 18) Rise up, be off to the potter’s house; there I will give you my message. Can I not do to you as this potter has done?      
Friday (Jeremiah 26) Stand in the court of the Lord’s house and speak these words: Come to worship in the house of the Lord and keep all my commandments.
Saturday (Jeremiah 26) Priests and prophets condemn Jeremiah to death. The princes and the people came to his defense: he speaks in the name of the Lord, our God.

Gospel: 
Monday: (Matthew 20) The mother of James and John asked Jesus to give the seats in the kingdom to her sons. They told him they could accept the cup of suffering willingly.
Tuesday: (Matthew 13) Jesus explained the parable of the sower and the seeds. The weeds are the children of the Evil One; The good seed is the Son of Man, the field is the world.  
Wednesday (Matthew 13) The kingdom is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all he has and buys that field.
Thursday (Matthew 13) The kingdom is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects every kind of fish. When it is full, it is brought to the shore where the bad are thrown away.   
Friday (John 11) Many came to comfort Martha and Mary at the death of Lazarus. “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
Saturday (Matthew 14) Herod arrested John the Baptist. At a dinner, he gave an oath to his daughter, who, after consulting her mother, asked for the head of John on a platter.

Saints of the Week

July 24: Sharbel Makhuf, priest (1828-1898), joined a monastery in the Maronite tradition and lived as a hermit for 23 years after living fifteen years in the community. He became known for his wisdom and devotion to the Blessed Sacrament.

July 25: James, Apostle (1st century), is the son of Zebedee and the brother of John. As fishermen, they left their trade to follow Jesus. They occupied the inner circle as friends of Jesus. James is the patron of Spain as a shrine is dedicated to him at Santiago de Compostela. He is the patron of pilgrims as many walk the Camino en route to this popular pilgrim site.

July 26: Joachim and Anne, Mary's parents (1st century) are names attributed to the grandparents of Jesus through the Proto-Gospel of James. These names appeared in the Christian tradition though we don't know anything with certitude about their lives. Devotion of Anne began in Constantinople in the 6th century while Joachim gained acclaim in the West in the 16th century. He was revered in the Eastern churches since the earliest times.

July 29: Martha (1st century), is the sister of Mary and Lazarus of Bethany near Jerusalem. Martha is considered the busy, activity-attentive sister while Mary is more contemplative. Martha is known for her hospitality and fidelity. She proclaimed her belief that Jesus was the Christ when he appeared after Lazarus had died.

July 30: Peter Chrysologus, bishop and doctor (406-450), was the archbishop of Ravenna, Italy in the 5th century when the faithful became lax and adopted pagan practices. He revived the faith through his preaching. He was titled Chrysologus because of his 'golden words.'

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Jul 24, 1805. In Maryland, Fr. Robert Molyneux was appointed the first superior by Father General Gruber.
·      Jul 25, 1581. In the house of the Earl of Leicester in London, an interview occurred between Queen Elizabeth and Edmund Campion. The Queen could scarcely have recognized the worn and broken person before her as the same brilliant scholar who had addressed here at Oxford 15 years before.
·      Jul 26, 1872. At Rome, the greater part of the Professed House of the Gesu was seized and appropriated by the Piedmontese government.
·      Jul 27, 1609. Pope Paul V beatifies Ignatius.
·      Jul 28, 1564. In a consistory held before twenty-four Cardinals, Pope Paul IV announced his intention of entrusting the Roman Seminary to the Society.
·      Jul 29, 1865. The death in Cincinnati, Ohio of Fr. Peter Arnoudt, a Belgian. He was the author of The Imitation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

·      Jul 30, 1556. As he lay near death, Ignatius asked Juan de Polanco to go and obtain for him the blessing of the pope.